Are you already tired of listening and watching others plan, set and launch their health goals for the new year? Have you been stuck in a health pattern that just isn’t helping you get ahead or feel better? Do you want to improve your health, but are overwhelmed with all the things you ‘should’ or want to be doing, but just can’t seem to get right? What’s the priority here to becoming healthier while not feeling overwhelmed or having to ‘do it all’? As a naturopathic doctor, I’ve seen it all when it comes to health. As such, I’ve come to consistently realize the 3 most simple and effective things you can do for your health in the new year (or any time of year for that matter!).
Eat at least one healthy food above and beyond what you already are, specific to your current health needs
This one’s a no brainer, simple, and it’s impact will positively improve your health multiple times over. You see, when you eat a single healthy food above what you’re currently eating, it’s not only a method to reduce the negative health implications of poor food choices, it also provides a multitude of benefits in terms of moving your health forward. For example, adding a handful or small bowl of blueberries to your breakfast routine, not only helps neutralize the ill effects last nights snack food had on your body, it adds a plethora of anti oxidants, flavonoids, and other healthy contributors to better your overall health. If you’re diabetic, this helps reduce the negative impacts that high blood sugar has on your health (when properly combined with healthy proteins or fats). If your immune system is sick all the time, blueberries help provide what your system needs for better balance. If you’re generally tired all the time, blueberries give your cells the healthy start they need in order to better function. You get the idea. And, of course, it doesn’t have to be blueberries. Also, it should be specific for your current (or future) health goals or needs. Slowly, over time, rather than stressing over trying to eliminate the unhealthy foods, starting by slowing adding in the healthy, one small step at a time, will only cause an increase in overall health and wellbeing.
Get outside, into nature, and move
This one’s also a no brainer. Physical activity has independently proven to systematically improve your overall health. For example, if you rarely move or exercise, getting outside and taking a short walk creates improved oxygen flow, better circulation, burns calories, and moves your muscles and joints. In addition, physical exercise has been proven to substantially improve mental and emotional health and wellbeing, to the point of clinical changes (including stress, which is a major predictor of health and disease). Purposely getting up and moving for the sake of health, to whatever extent you can, is also an independent risk factor reducer for the majority of (if not all) major chronic health issues and diseases (cardiovascular disease to cancer, to improving quality of life and reducing mortality). Regardless of your current health concern(s) or goal(s), physical movement will only help. On top of simple or complex movement, science has succinctly proven that if you get away from the city and into nature (or green space at the least), the downtrodden’s of city living is not only reduced (environmental toxin exposure, air devoid of healthy molecules, stress associated man made surroundings etc), clear and proven health benefits of being in nature will prevail. At a minimum of 15 minutes most days, the health return of getting outside, away from artificial space, air and light, and into nature, while being active, is realistically endless.
Focus on ‘overall’ health, and not necessarily on ‘specific’ health needs
Ok, so here’s the clincher. As important as it is to fine tune and address specific health needs (health conditions, diseases, and even the ‘small stuff’ necessary to refine your current proactive health goals), it’s truly the overall approach to health that matters. As I continue to say, it’s the majority of what you do that counts. I promote the 80/20 rule when it comes to life and health, wherein 80% of what you do should be encouraging health, so that there’s an accommodation for up to 20% of anti-health decisions that ultimately won’t negatively impact the direction of your overall well being. When it comes to focusing on overall health, also remember that regardless of the minutia of specific health goals or addressing disease, the majority of your self and cells that make up who you are (physical, mental, emotional etc) are in fact healthy. And you have to support the healthy you, not only focus and ‘treat’ the unhealthy. It’s like they say in school, sports, and life, if you’re good at something, focus and excel at it, as all the rest will then work itself out, and only create a minority of negative impacts on the direction, focus and outcome of your life. The exact same applies when it comes to health.
Think a little about these 3 simple and effective things you can do for your health in the new year (or any time for that matter!). When it comes to your focus on health or disease, regardless of anything else, if you’re actively eating healthier, intentionally moving more, and taking a ‘big picture’ approach to your well being, absolutely everything in your life (and health) will only improve. I challenge you to prove me otherwise.